8 family members killed ‘execution-style’ in Ohio, shooter likely still on the loose

© Aaron Josefczyk
Eight members of the same family have been killed in four Ohio locations, according to the state's Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The shooter is either on the loose or one of the deceased, law enforcement said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader described the shootings as “execution-style” in a statement Friday afternoon.

“This is not an active shooter situation, however no arrests have been made,” the statement read. “The investigation is in its very early states, and authorities are still investigating to determine a motive, identify the deceased, and determine if the gunman is among the deceased individuals or on the loose.”

The preliminary indications are that none of the shooting deaths were a suicide, and it is increasingly likely that the shooter is not among the deceased, DeWine told WLW’s Bill Cunningham. Some very young children, including one or two babies, were removed from the four homes.

The shooter or shooters “may still be on the loose,” he said, adding that any remaining family members should be cautious.

“We’ve never had anything like this,” DeWine said.

The shootings occurred at four different scenes, all relatively close to one another.

Aerial video and photos show numerous law enforcement vehicles in the area.

Peebles High School is on a "lockout" as a precaution, meaning that classes will continue but no one is allowed to come or go. The high school is about 10 miles from the shooting scene. 

The attorney general's office confirmed "multiple homicides" but refused to release additional information, WBNS reported. Authorities later confirmed that five adults and two children were killed.

“The mail carrier told me there’s something seriously bad going on up the road," nearby resident Goldie Holderbran told WCPO. "I’m on the other side of [Highway] 32 on Union Hill Road. I’m not very far."

The Pike County Sheriff's Office has called for help from investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. 

A crime scene search unit and cyber-crimes unit were also called to the scene. 

The properties are located on Union Hill Road in Pike County, just east of the town of Peebles and about 75 miles east of Cincinnati. 

The FBI’s Cincinnati Division is “closely monitoring the situation” and has offered its services to the county sheriff, the agency tweeted. Adams and Pike County Sheriff's investigators are on the scene, as well as members of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations is there, including its special prosecutor, Woody Breyer, WKRC reported.

Multiple search warrants will be served at the four crimes scenes on at least three properties. The pieces of land are between half a mile and a mile apart, and are believed to belong to the parents and grandparents of the children who were killed, according to WCPO.

The eighth body was that of another adult, and it was found at a fourth scene, according to WXIX.

The lockdowns at two Adams County schools, Peebles High School and Peebles Elementary School, have been lifted, WKRC reported.

"I was told we are out of danger. We feel sure of that," Superintendent Richard Seas said.

At this time, “there is no suspect,” Lieutenant Michael Preston with the Ross County Sheriff’s Office said without elaborating.

"I can't speak to anything, any information about the case until we get some more," Preston said. "We don't know what we've got until we get the search warrants served."

The family has not been identified, but Pastor Phil Fulton, from the Union Hill Church, told WKRC that he knew them.

"They all attended church at one time. They kind of dropped by the wayside probably three, four years ago, maybe. I would always see…. out, very friendly, outgoing person,” he said. “The kids seemed friendly, always you know, just good kids, seemed like."

Pike County victim’s advocate Dave Dickerson is trying to counsel approximately 20 relatives of the deceased, he told WLWT’s Todd Dykes.